August 18th, 2020
Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Michigan is joining a coalition of 13 states to file a lawsuit against the federal government over the recent unlawful changes to the operations of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The lawsuit argues that the proposed and implemented changes by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy are both procedurally and substantively unlawful and risk the timely delivery of mail.
The changes made to operations since Dejoy was named the U.S. Postmaster General in May include halting overtime for USPS employees, reducing operating hours, directing mail carriers to leave mail for the next day, ending the practice of processing ballots as first-class mail, removing mailboxes, and decommissioning sorting machines. Media reports indicate that sorting machines, which can sort about 270,000 pieces of mail per hour, have been removed from three Michigan cities.
The lawsuit states that the changes “delay the receipt and postmarking of mail, harming the health and well-being of residents who depend on the mail for critical and time-sensitive items such as medications, bills, benefits payments, and legal documents. The delayed mail will include mailed absentee ballots, affecting elections of federal, state, legislative, judicial, county, city, town, and district officers scheduled for November 3, 2020.”
Federal law dictates that any changes to USPS operations that affect nationwide mail service must be submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission and be open to public comment. Due to the negative consequences that will be caused by these changes, the coalition is asking the Court to order USPS to submit a proposal requesting an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission and is seeking an injunction to prohibit the implementation of operational changes until the advisory opinion is given. The coalition also asks that the Court orders USPS to revoke any changes that have been illegally made.
Nessel’s decision to join the lawsuit also received support from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. This decision is a step towards protecting safe and secure elections as concerns of COVID-19 and voter suppression continue to spread across the state and nation.